New study analyzes how gender affects price quoting

According to researchers at Northwestern University, women typically end up paying more for automotive repairs than men if they appear to be less informed. In a paper titled Repairing the Damage: The Effect of Price Expectations on Auto-Repair Price Quotes, the researchers analyzed how gender can influence the way customers are treated.

"What we found is the result people have really found intuitive – that there is this gender interaction between how informed people appear to be and the prices they get," said Meghan Busse, associate professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. "Women who call up and say they have no idea what the price ought to be are quoted higher prices than men who call up and say, 'I have no idea what the price ought to be.'"

According to the study, female callers were quoted higher prices than men on average, but this was also dependent on how informed the callers were.

"Busse and her team found that when callers did not mention prices, women were quoted prices $13 higher than when they said they expected it to cost around $365," reported U.S. News & World Report. "Men, meanwhile, were quoted prices nearly $10 lower than when they mentioned that price. By contrast, when callers quoted a price of any sort, the gender differences disappeared."

Essentially, both men and women who appeared well-informed were treated fairly. But when dealing with men and women who didn't seem well-informed, shops quoted women higher prices.

Combating gender issues
While this study is hardly an indictment of all automotive service professionals, it does little to dispel the myth that professional service centers are an unfriendly place for women. It's with this in mind that automotive repair facilities should be doing everything they can to appeal to female drivers.

Trust is essential for all customers, but even more so for women who may feel like repair facilities are only looking to take advantage of them. A good way to combat this stereotype and build trust is to make sure a service center's atmosphere doesn't feel like a men-only club. This means making a service center feel welcoming to all types of drivers. One way to do this is by hiring female workers, be they technicians or receptionists. Another idea is appealing to mothers with a kid-friendly waiting room featuring toys and magazines. Most important of all, however, is treating female vehicle owners with the same respect as men.